All night long - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

All night long

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Posted: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 12:00 am

COEUR d'ALENE - The Kootenai County Elections Department is looking at a long night.

"Or a short morning," said Pat Raffee, chief deputy clerk, on Monday.

To avoid impacting today's election outcome, the Elections Department won't start counting absentee ballots until polls close at 8 p.m. today, the county Clerk's Office announced on Monday.

On top of that, it's hard to predict when votes cast at the polls will be delivered to the Elections Office for counting tonight, Raffee said.

"If we have a high turnout, it will take a long time for them to balance the poll books before they deliver them to us," Raffee said.

That said, county staff doesn't "have any idea" when all the votes will be counted, Raffee said.

It's possible the final results won't be in until after midnight, she said.

"Absolutely," she said. "We're planning on going all night, until dawn."

Roughly 18,000 absentee votes had been submitted to the county by Monday, Raffee said.

A directive sent out by Secretary of State Ben Ysura instructs county clerks not to start tabulating ballots until election day.

The directive, sent out in May, also states that results must not be released "until the polls are closed throughout the state."

The county could legally start counting absentee ballots this morning, Raffee acknowledged.

But there are security concerns over running ballots through the machines while the polls are still open, she said.

"We couldn't control who stays, who leaves, who knows, who talks about the results," Raffee said. "That could potentially influence people."

The Elections Department will post updated results all night long as the counting continues, Raffee stated.

Folks can follow the updates at: The results will be unofficial until the canvass with the county commissioners on Nov. 15.

Elections Supervisor Carrie Phillips couldn't be reached on Monday for comment.

Spokane County has already started counting and running final processing of its ballots, said Elections Manager Mike McLaughlin on Monday.

Results should be available at about 8:20 p.m. today, he said.

"Everyone wants results by 8 o'clock," he said.

That's results for the overall election, not just absentee.

To be fair, it's not that Spokane operates at supersonic speed. All Washington votingis done by mail, McLaughlin explained, so Spokane had already received 140,000 ballots by Monday, with staff counting all day on Monday and today.

"We only have one release (of results)," McLaughlin said.

Polls in Kootenai County will be open today from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Those tabulating the ballots tonight will not be allowed to make or receive phone calls, Raffee said.

"We don't want security to be compromised," she said.

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  • Dan English posted at 2:55 pm on Tue, Nov 6, 2012.

    Dan English Posts: 157

    Actually we did follow the law including Title 34, Chapter two which says the Secretary of State is authorized and directed by Idaho Code to interpret the election laws and issue directives to County Clerks which we followed.

    I would never say, and never did say I did a perfect job without mistakes but I did do the job for about 15 years. I'm wondering what your background of expertise is that you base your opinions on?

  • Sheeken Hunter posted at 8:38 am on Tue, Nov 6, 2012.

    Sheeken Hunter Posts: 179

    Dan-"If they truly aren't going to start running the absentee ballots through the machine until after 8 p.m. then it will be a very long night indeed...there are no valid concerns [about counting absentee ballots early]."

    After your many years as County Clerk, in charge of elections, I would like to be able to believe that you know that the law specifically provides that no ballots are to be opened, and no ballots are to be counted, until after the polls close.I would like to be able to believe that when you were County Clerk you followed the law. The problem for me is that every time you open your mouth you make any such beliefs impossible for me.

  • ancientemplar posted at 7:58 am on Tue, Nov 6, 2012.

    ancientemplar Posts: 1176

    Shouldn't take any longer than usual if they do their job the way they have in the past. Oh wait, we have a new county clerk. I guess it might take longer if they do there jobs correctly as insinuated below by the former clerk.

    I guess they could take shortcuts......... like in the past.

  • Dan English posted at 7:11 am on Tue, Nov 6, 2012.

    Dan English Posts: 157

    If they truly aren't going to start running the absentee ballots through the machine until after 8 p.m. then it will be a very long night indeed.

    Just to clarify, the counting machines do not display any results as the ballots are being fed into them so there is no way that process could impact the voting during the day. There is actually no valid concerns about anyone observing results or talking about them since there are no results to see. The final absentee ballots are not fed into them until after 8 p.m. when the polls have closed and then, and only then, would run totals be run and therefore know any results.

    With two ballots and about 20,000 absentees that's 40,000 total ballots to count. Understanding that the machines will stop each time they can't read a ballot for some reason, a ballot jams perhaps because they have been folded, and of course each time there is a write-in for one of the multiple write-in candidates, then it's likely that portion of the counting alone will go on for multiple hours.

    Patience and No-Doze will be called for.

  • Tim Herzog posted at 6:58 am on Tue, Nov 6, 2012.

    Tim Herzog Posts: 359

    Beside the fact that the Presidential Elections contribute to the high turnout of voters, locally we have Write-In Candidates that will take more time to count.

    The County Commissioner races have write-ins that don't show up on the ballot.

    Please consider writing me in. Thank you.

    WRITE-IN Tim Herzog for District 1, County Commissioner...fill in the oval under Todd Tondee and write in my name.

    I AM for RETAINING our current form of government and allowing you to vote for elected officials!
    I AM for protecting your property rights..I own several properties and plan to develop in the future!
    I WILL fight against unfair zoning and ordinances that affect your rights to use your property!
    I AM against wasteful spending on county structures not needed at this time.
    I AM for creating more jobs in Kootenai County, especially skilled jobs!

    I RAN in 2008 against Tondee and lost by a mere 5.3%
    I RAN in 2012 with 4 others, 2 were Democrats so Tondee won.

    I AM YOUR WRITE-IN CANDIDATE for District 1, County Commissioner

    I AM the ONLY Commissioner Candidate "Officially Endorsed by the Kootenai County Deputy Sheriff's Association" and supported by the many of the county employees.

    I SINCERELY ask for your vote today! I AM a true "grass roots candidate" and not funded by ANY group or organization so MY ALLEGIANCE is only to the citizens and taxpayers of Kootenai County!
    District 1, County Commissioner
    "it's time for a positive difference"

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